John Kelleher Havre Daily News email@example.com
Imagine having 800 friends over for Thanksgiving dinner and not having any apprehensions about things going wrong. That's the position Kitty Williams was in Thursday morning. Just before 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church’s Parish Center, a cadre of volunteers was making final preparations for the annual community Thanksgiving dinner. There was no hustle-bustle. People quietly went about their task. Some were cutting pumpkin pies, others prepared items for the vegetable trays. Kathleen Hockett was one of the volunteers. She thought helping out at the community meal "was a great opportunity to help people.” "It's a wonderful dinner they put on here," she said. One of the major tasks had already been accomplished. A total of 220 meals had already been sent out to shut-ins. The well-oiled machine of volunteers accomplished that project in less than a hour, Hockett said. The annual event has become a Havre tradition. It is designed for anyone in the community. An anonymous donor pays for the entire thing. Several people offered to make donations, but they were turned down. "I just came out to help. This is my first time," said Erik Thompson, as he handed out radishes to the diners. "I already watched the cool parade on television." "Kitty has this really well organi zed, " said Cynthi a Bryson, as she cut pumpkin pie. Williams, the veteran chair of the program, laughed and chatted with the visitors, many of whom she knew by name. She praised the volunteers who came out to do the work. "They are great," she said, Feeding so many people wasn't that great a challenge for Peter Bruni, who was mashing potatoes. He is a retired Air Force cook. "We used to feed 1,500 to 1,600 people at a time," he said. "Last year was my first year," he said. "It got a little hectic, but now I have the law of the kitchen, and we've got a game plan." Teri Cavuto and Lolly Evans dished out corn and mashed potatoes. A recent transplant from Syracuse, N.Y., Cavuto said she came out "to meet new people and be part of this great community spirit." Evans has been taking part for a decade. "When I retired, I wanted to do this," she said. She retired f rom Northern Montana Hospital where she had always worked on holidays. Now, relatives prepare the Thanksgiving meal at home, and she spends the day volunteering. She also spent Wednesday night helping to get things lined up for Thursday. She spent the night cutting onions. "I woke up this morning, and my sinuses were filled with onions," she laughed.